StatsCan’s canola estimate awaited

The first planting survey report for 2012, to be released Tuesday (April 24) by Statistics Canada, is expected to show Canadian farmers intend on seeding record acres to canola.

Now the questions: Exactly how high will the area be to canola? And will the report be an accurate reflection of seeding intentions?

"There are already indications that the plantings survey from the government agency will not be a true reflection of what producers plan on putting into the ground," said Mike Jubinville, an analyst with ProFarmer Canada.

The acreage survey will be for the period ended March 31, but the interviews with farmers probably occurred earlier in the month, providing opportunity for farmers to change their intentions, Jubinville said.

The first planting survey report from Statistics Canada over the past couple of years has generally underestimated acres, said Jerry Klassen, manager of GAP SA Grains and Produits in Winnipeg.

The most anticipated acreage projection of the report will be canola, with pre-report ideas expecting between 19.4 million and as many as 23 million acres to be seeded to the crop this spring. In the spring of 2011, a record 18.9 million acres of canola were seeded in Canada.

"Extra"

Ron Frost, an analyst with Frost Forecast Consulting in Calgary, said the recent improvement in profitability for canola over the past month can’t be ignored and will result in a higher-than-anticipated canola acreage forecast.

"I have increased the canola acreage estimate in recent weeks as farmer comments seem to be coming from all parts of the Canadian Prairies that an ‘extra’ quarter or half section of canola will be planted based on profitability," Frost said.

Some comments from northern areas even suggest good crop rotation practices will be ignored to capitalize on this potential windfall year, he said.

Acres left as summerfallow last year due to overly wet conditions and flooding will be put into canola this spring, Klassen said.

"I am anticipating that at least six million acres of the land that was left unseeded last year will be used for canola this spring," he said.

The financial returns for canola are just so great that they can’t be ignored by farmers, he said.

Other crops that offer decent financial returns include peas, malting barley and durum, he said.

Pre-report ideas forecast barley area in Canada this spring to range from 7.5 million to 8.8 million acres. In 2011, 6.472 million acres were seeded to barley.

All wheat area in Canada was expected to increase to 22.3 million acres to as much as 27.246 million from the 21.462 million planted in 2011.

Durum area was seen jumping significantly given the potential for returns doubling what they were in the 2011-12 crop year, Klassen said.

Improved fundamentals were behind the improved price outlook, but some of the price jump was also being attributed to the removal of the CWB’s monopoly powers on the commodity.

Pre-report durum acreage projections ranged from 4.5 million acres to as high as 7.44 million. In 2011, 4.015 million acres were seeded to durum in Canada.

Table 1. Pre-report expectations for Statistics Canada’s acreage survey results to be released on April 24, in millions of acres.

  Pre-report Actual
  estimates 2011
Canola 19.400-23.000 18.862
All wheat 22.300-27.246 21.462
   Durum 4.450-7.440 4.015
Barley 7.500-8.800 6.472
Flaxseed 0.600-1.150 0.695
Oats 2.750-3.885 3.109
Peas 2.500-3.195 2.328

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